Florida Governor Names Insurance Defense Lawyer to Appeals Court

By | July 8, 2024

The Florida property-casualty insurance industry, having seen wins and losses at the appellate court level in recent years, will soon have a familiar face on the bench that hears appeals for part of litigation-heavy south Florida.

Gov. Ron DeSantis last week announced that he has appointed Miami insurance defense attorney Kansas Gooden, a former president of the Florida Defense Lawyers Association, who has been involved in some high-profile cases, to the 3rd District Court of Appeals.

“A majority of civil cases in Florida implicate insurance in some way,” Gooden said in an email last week. “My civil trial and appellate practice often involved insurance contracts, regulation, and indemnity. I know my knowledge of the law in these areas will be helpful to me and my new colleagues on the bench.”


Gooden, appellate practice leader with the Boyd & Jenerette regional law firm, was nominated by the 3rd District Judicial Nominating Commission, whose members are appointed by the governor. She will fill the vacancy left when Judge Eric Hendon, a former public defender and prosecutor, died in February.

Gooden is a member of the Federalist Society. She earned her bachelor’s degree from James Madison University and her law degree from St. Thomas University.

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As president of the Florida Defense Lawyers Association in 2022, Gooden is credited with reviving the association’s amicus curiae committee, a colleague told Law.com. The committee has penned many “friend of the court” briefs, often on the side of insurers.

One of those amicus briefs was written in a prominent case that ended in a significant Florida Supreme Court decision in March. Gooden co-wrote the brief for FDLA, arguing that a well-known bar in Tallahassee, which had served alcohol to a driver, should be allowed a comparative fault provision, sharing fault with others involved in an accident. The court agreed.

Other significant cases Gooden worked on include:

Suarez Trucking FL Corp. vs. Souders, 2022. The Florida Supreme Court resolved a conflict on when a settlement agreement arises. The court ruled that the text of the state statute provides that filing the notice of acceptance creates the contract. Gooden represented Suarez Trucking.

Allstate Insurance vs. Ray, 2022. The 2nd District Court of Appeals partly overturned a lower court’s ruling that Allstate must produce information from its employees’ personnel files and other privileged documents. The trial court must first hold a private review of the files, the appellate judges said. Gooden represented Allstate.

Boozer vs. Stalley, 2014. Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeals overturned a 21-year-old precedent and applied the plain text of the attorney-client privilege statute. The judges held that an insured did not waive her attorney-client privilege with her defense lawyer upon the injured party’s filing of a bad-faith suit. Gooden represented Emily Boozer, who was involved in an automobile accident and was covered by Allstate Insurance policies.

Topics Florida

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